Apple hopes thinner, lighter iPad Mini will boost its sales in new markets
APPLE HAS updated its suite of iPads for the holiday shopping season, including a new, thinner and lighter Mini edition, as it attempts to extend its lead in the tablet market ahead of growing competition from Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft.
The introduction of a smaller and cheaper iPad also marks a stronger attempt by Apple to tap the corporate and education markets.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said it has sold more than 100 million iPads since the device was launched in 2010. “This is unprecedented for a new product in a new category,” he said. “We sold more iPads in the June quarter than any PC manufacturer sold in their entire line-up.”
The 7.9-inch iPad Mini is half the weight of its predecessor, but lacks the high-resolution Retina Display of the latest 10-inch iPad. The cheapest model will sell for $329 (€253), which is more than analysts had expected.
The fourth-generation, full-sized iPads include faster processors, a new Lightning cable connector and wider support for 4G LTE, bringing the cellular wireless technology to more operators around the world.
Mr Cook spoke of the iPad’s battery life and app ecosystem but spent much time at the launch stressing the appeal of the iPad to the education and corporate markets. “Administrators around the world have found the iPad to be an incredible learning platform,” Mr Cook said.
The iBooks author tool which Apple launched in January has allowed textbook publishers and educational establishments to sell digital teaching materials to more than 2,500 schools in the US.
“In addition to education, the iPad is taking the business market by storm,” he said. “We know we are just getting started . . .We are not taking our foot off the gas.”
Analysts at IHS iSuppli, a market research firm, said Apple’s entry to the 7-inch tablet market would help to double the volume of units sold in each of the next two years. It expects global sales of mid-sized tablets to grow from 17 million in 2011 to 34 million this year and 67 million next year.
Ahead of Apple’s earnings tomorrow, Mr Cook did not provide an update on iPhone 5 sales figures of 5 million in its opening weekend.
He did say Apple has sold 3 million iPods since a new line-up was introduced earlier this month and that 200 million people had upgraded their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch operating systems to iOS 6, despite the flaws in its new Maps software, for which Mr Cook apologised after ejecting Google Maps from the platform.